If you handle a lot of outbound shipments, inefficiencies can have a direct impact on profit. Medium-to-high volume shippers need increased efficiency on their outbound shipping process. The faster you can ship, the more product you can move and the less handling required for each outbound package.
Every time an employee touches a box, it adds incidental costs. By consolidating your shipping through your packing system, you ensure every box is only handled once. When you can consolidate packing and shipping, you can save time and money. So how do you know if you can combine your pack and ship stations?
Here are a few quick and easy steps to follow.
Physical Setup Impacts Potential Gains
Sometimes, you can ship directly from your packing station, but only if your physical setup and hardware allow for it. Picking the product, selecting the right size container, adding flyers or other marketing materials and other value-added services all happen at your packing station. At a ship station, you'll need a scale to weigh the package and printers to create the labels.
If you can physically combine these two stations, you can ship directly from the packing station. If you have a lot happening at your packing station, your physical layout may not allow for a combined workstation.
The more packaging you have, the less likely it is that you will want a single station to handle both activities. Crowded workstations are just as inefficient as separated processes. Consolidating packing and shipping works best when:
- You have limited packing materials.
- You use a few, standardized styles of shipping containers.
- You add very little additional material.
- You have enough space at your packing station to add the hardware needed for shipping.
Shippers Bottleneck With Software
Another issue that can prevent the merge comes in the form of carrier-provided shipping systems. When UPS, FedEx, USPS or other shipping companies give you the hardware and software needed to manage your shipping, you may not be able to network all of your systems through their proprietary systems.
In around 80 percent of cases, this is the biggest barrier to a consolidated pack and ship station.
Internal Software Integration
If you use your own management software for all parts of the logistics process, that doesn't mean you can instantly switch to a more streamlined setup. Integration between your warehouse management software, packing software and shipping software is essential to avoid bottlenecks.
If you need to enter the destination address for every outbound package manually, adding shipping to your packing station is unlikely to speed things up. When your software integrates seamlessly, so can your physical setup.
Breaking Through the Barriers
When you have all of the physical components worked out and infrastructure in place, you can consolidate into a single station. This switch uses the best of the lean management style pioneered by Toyota. By reducing employee and product movements through your warehouse, you'll realize incremental gains that can add up quickly.
Building Better Logistics Processes
So, can you ship from your packing station? You can if your physical setup allows it, you have the right infrastructure, and you aren't limited by a carrier-provided system.
Take a look at your current setup to see if it can work. Normally, packing and shipping stations are physically close, making it a pretty easy switch.
If you can consolidate your stations, you can see benefits immediately. After all, if you have five packing and shipping stations using 10 or more employees, you can consolidate your workforce and retask several people to work in other areas of your warehouse. When possible, streamlining your packing and shipping is usually the way to go.